Linguist completes interviews exploring ‘Iron Range English’

PHOTO: lsengardt, Flickr CC

PHOTO: lsengardt, Flickr CC

To follow up on a story I wrote about in July, Dr. Sara Schmelzer Loss has completed her interviews of 30 Iron Rangers in her continuing research on the Iron Range dialect. She’ll now begin work to determine her findings on the state of our unique dialect.

Schmelzer Loss, originally of Hibbing, is a visiting professor of linguistics at Oklahoma State University. Jenna Ross of the Star Tribune interviewed her this week in a story that ran today.

Turns out Iron Range English stems from “an imperfect learning of English” in the late 19th century, when an influx of immigrants — from countries such as Slovenia and Finland — came to northeastern Minnesota to work in the iron ore mines. In a bigger city, different immigrants segregated themselves, Loss said.

But on the Range, there was “a big mixing” thanks to mining housing, she said, creating that distinctive dialect.

One of Schmelzer Loss’s subjects who spoke to Ross for the story was Britta Bloomquist, a longtime reader and commenter on this blog. Way to go, Britta!

I did not participate in the study. Years of alternating between living in the woods and working in broadcasting has masked the Range components of my accent, though it’s still very distinctly of Northern Minnesota. I will say I do remember saying “We goin’ up town” growing up, which is different than “We are going to town.”

Up means North, of course. Duh!

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